Tiger Woods was asked *that* question about his future. He said no 10 times.
He first answered the question with a rhetorical one.
Then he said no.
Then he laughed.
Then he said no about 10 more times.
Ask him his goal for St. Andrews, and the 15-time major champion will tell you he would like to make that number 16. Woods is not ceremonially here. Then again, Jack and Arnie each waved goodbye atop the Swilcan Bridge; Woods, in fact, brought up both farewells himself during his pre-tournament press conference. Woods is also not getting any younger. And his surgically repaired right leg is still hurting.
So Henni Koyack, a broadcaster who’s close to the Woods camp, posed a question that you’ve maybe been wondering about, and the exchange was captured by BBC cameras.
“Who, me, retire?” Woods began.
“No,” he continued.
He laughed, laughed again and continued again.
“No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. I’m not now retiring,” he said.
He laughed again.
“Am I not playing a full schedule? Yes, that’s — I’ve told you guys that many times,” he said. “That’s just my reality. I don’t like it, but I just have to accept it. But as far as retiring, no. But this may be, you know, my last chance I’ll be playing at St. Andrews with a chance to compete at the highest level. If it comes around in, what, five, six, seven, eight years time, whatever the time frame is, who knows if I will be playing the game of golf at this level, I don’t know.
“So yeah, I appreciate every single moment, especially coming back here.”
Pretty straight forward, right? You can strongly argue that. For one, you would think that a Woods retirement announcement would be its own event, though no reporter has recently straight-asked Woods the question publicly. He’s also been committed to the line of a reduced schedule for a while now, seems genuinely committed to working to that and brought it up again in his formal press gathering.
Most telling to that point is when a reporter asked Woods: “Tiger, understanding your physical state and, as you say, the very limited schedule going forward, what have you learned this year about the challenge of playing so little? In terms of sharpness, in terms of Tour golf, month off, playing again. What’s been the biggest challenge?”
“The biggest challenge is I’m not playing tournament golf to get tournament ready for the majors,” Woods answered. “I’m not hitting shots in tournaments to know what works and what doesn’t work. I’ve had to do that at home. Yes, I can do that. I can do that at home to a certain extent, but it certainly is a lot better when I’m able to play tournament golf to feel tournament hardened coming into these big events.
“But that’s no longer my future. I’m not going to be able to do that again. So this is what my future is, a very limited schedule. I’m going to have to somehow figure out a way to practice at home efficiently and come to these events maybe just a little bit earlier and get more looks and try to get a better feel for it, and really trust what I’m doing because I hadn’t proven it to myself in any other tournaments prior to this.
“Hey, just the fact that I was able to play Augusta when I just started weight bearing six weeks prior to the event, that to me was quite an accomplishment. Then Tulsa was another accomplishment. So this whole year has been something that I’m very proud of that I’m able to have gotten to this point with my team to get here to where I’ve been able to play in these tournaments when it looked like I would never have this opportunity ever again.”
Of course, Woods is far from an open book, though again, it’s noteworthy that he freely referenced the Open goodbyes of Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. It’s at least on his mind. And what if he were to physically struggle like he did in his last event, the PGA Championship, where he withdrew after the third round?
Then again, should he, Woods wouldn’t likely have to make any call until next April, when the Masters rolls around. That’s nine months to get the leg and everything else better.
“Well, my body certainly can get better, but realistically, not a whole lot,” Woods said. “It’s been through a lot, and at 46, you don’t quite heal as well as you do at 26.
“So it is what it is. Just lucky enough to, in our sport, to be able to play as long as we are able to play late into the 40s, especially on links golf courses like this, you can continue into your 50s. We saw Tom have it on his putter to win late in his 50s.
“So it can be done. It just takes a lot of knowledge and understanding of how to play this type of golf. And with the fairways being fast and firm, it allows players who are older to run the ball out there and have a chance.”
The sound advice to you, the Woods fan, may be to tune in on Friday, around 9:30 a.m. ET or so. If Woods is out of contention, he’ll be playing his final shots at this time.
Of course, there’s a chance you could be watching him on Saturday and Sunday, too. Later in the day even.
Koyack asked Woods another question in the Sky Sports interview.
“And regards to winning here on Sunday?”
“I need to get myself into that position,” he said. “And making sure, as I said, doing all my homework, make sure I do all the things I need to do, make sure I put myself in there with a shot at going into that back nine on Sunday.
“And that’s my responsibility and hopefully I can do it.”